In the first game of the final series of the Costa Rican first division summer championship, visitors Club Sport Herediano tied Liberia Mía 0-0 Sunday evening in the city of Liberia, in the northwestern Guanacaste province.
Heredia controlled the pace of the game, and missed several clear chances at goal in the second half. Liberia was playing without a number of its most important players, who were excluded for having accumulated yellow cards in earlier games, or, as in the case of William Sunsing – widely considered Liberia Mía´s most dynamic player – because of injury.
The two teams will meet next Tuesday night for the deciding game. While Heredia will enjoy home field advantage before sold-out grandstands, Liberia Mía should be close to full strength with the return of its suspended players. While both teams seemed satisfied with Sunday´s lackluster tie, Tuesday´s game should see a much higher level of intensity.
For most Costa Ricans, the real significance of the championship series is that it marks the first time in over 16 years – since Heredia last won the championship in 1993 – that the final series of a championship will not be won by either Deportiva Saprissa or the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, by far Costa Rica´s most dominant and popular teams over the past two decades.
While La Liga was eliminated from competition before the playoffs began, Saprissa was knocked out in the semifinals series by Liberia Mía, in a series marred by a controversy over yellow cards. Saprissa challenged the result of that series, alleging that Liberia fielded players who should have been suspended for having accumulated five yellow cards. Liberia Mía, for its part, claims that it had properly appealed the cards, while Saprissa maintains that yellow cards cannot be appealed according to international rules binding on the Costa Rican championship.